Procter & Gamble's Unique Path to Flexibility

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  • "Doing the right thing becomes a natural, fundamental aspect of the way we do business."
  • "We believe in empowering employees to assess and identify their work/life priorities."
  • "We use FlexPaths' Flex Management System to build? knowledge of flexibility."
Procter & Gamble is a pioneer in many arenas: leading-edge products, international presence, being a top employer for nearly two centuries, among many others. P & G's motto of 'doing the right thing,' which serves as the catalyst for its people-focused policies, has surely contributed to its extraordinary success. We spoke with Ann Andreosatos, the work strategies leader for North America diversity practice at Procter & Gamble, about the organization's flexibility programs. Ann shared how the company's commitment to flexibility has helped it become the employer of choice it is today.

Procter & Gamble operates on many core values, one of which is 'doing the right thing.' In reflecting upon your people practices, can you elaborate on how 'doing the right thing' makes business sense?

P&G's values have been fundamental to our success for more than 160 years. Our cultural purpose, values and principles are based on the premise that we should be conscientious citizens and employees. Secondly, our commitment to consumers is that we will touch and improve their lives in more parts of the world, more completely. We believe this is our opportunity, our responsibility, and our purpose for generations to come. So the idea of doing the right thing becomes a natural, fundamental aspect of the way we do business including how we tie these principles into our people practices.

Procter & Gamble's commitment to workplace flexibility is one of the many ways the organization does the right thing. What is your approach to flexibility?

Our approach to flexibility is embedded in our commitment to provide support and tools that allow employees to manage their careers in our promote-from-within environment.? We invest in our talent long term, and thus flexibility is a tool that supports this investment. There are a number of ways that we look at the value of flexibility. First and foremost, we believe in empowering employees to assess and identify their work/life priorities. We also see the value of flexibility for retention, productivity, and career management needs. Like many companies, we believe flexibility must be owned and managed at the business unit or local level. So we have expanded our ability to provide strong guidance for employees and managers and to encourage effective exploration and decision-making between them. This is one of the key cultural elements for ensuring long term success. The key is open discussion and exploration with the coaching and support of HR.

Can you describe your program?

Rather than being a program, building a flexible work environment is addressed by offering sound polices (we have all the typical flexible work arrangements) and then supporting them with useful, in-depth information, tools, and coaching. In other words, the organization has to become skilled and experienced through practice. We use FlexPaths' Flex Management System to communicate information, research, and other tools to build managers', employees', and other internal stakeholders' knowledge of flexibility. In fact, we use it to spread confidence and competence in flexible work across the globe. What's particularly critical is making sure managers' actions are in line with our goals, that employees know what's possible here, and that the company stands behind their ability to work flexibly. That's why we use this online tool.

How do you see your flexibility program evolving?

There is already a significant amount of ad hoc flex on a day-to-day basis, as people have become accustomed to managing their life-work obligations by flexing their daily schedule.? We would expect it to evolve by gaining experience across all of our global regions, by linking flexibility with other initiatives such as health and wellness efforts, and by linking it to diversity and inclusion efforts.
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About the Author
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In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
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